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Working with Ash wood

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Forum topic by b2rtch posted 222 days ago 1220 views 1 time favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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b2rtch

4286 posts in 1643 days


222 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question ash

At work we got shipments of product which are protected with 1’x6’x4’ pieces of what looks to me to be ash wood.
I am not very familiar with ash wood and at first I tough that it was some king of pine wood as the color is very light.
But in the past, someone told me that my kitchen cabinets are made of ash wood and the figures on the cabinets and on the wood I get are very similar, very highly figured.
Now my question: since the grain goes in all directions, how am I going to joint and to plane this wood with out too much tear out ?
What about finishing, it looks like this wood would blotch a lot, what should I do?
Thank you.

-- Bert


30 replies so far

View REO's profile

REO

577 posts in 669 days


#1 posted 222 days ago

It machines much like oak, specific gravity is lighter so it not as hard to toss around.

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bondogaposis

2432 posts in 946 days


#2 posted 222 days ago

It’s light and strong, bends well, one common use is snowshoe frames. The pieces you have were probably used for packing because of the wonky grain. I used quite a bit of it on my workbench it is not hard to work if the grain is straight. It does machine a lot like oak, you have to be very concerned about the direction of planing and get out your card scrapers to deal w/ the wild grain.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Redoak49

260 posts in 584 days


#3 posted 222 days ago

I like ash and have built some cabinets with it. The cost is a bit less than red oak in my area and it is available in pretty wide pieces. Ash will not be around too much longer as many trees are either dying or being cut down due to the infestations of emerald ash borers.

I find it pretty easy to work as long as the grain is fairly straight. It also finishes well for me and I use oil stain and oil based poly.

I would buy a harbor freight metal detector and go over the pieces to make certain there is not some embedded metal in it as is often the case with wood used for packing.

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knotscott

5364 posts in 1971 days


#4 posted 222 days ago

Ash can be very nice looking, and is good to work with. Depending on staining and the particular grain structure, it can resemble oak, but often has nicer grain patterns.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View natenaaron's profile

natenaaron

364 posts in 392 days


#5 posted 222 days ago

On top of what others said above you get the added bonus of people coming up and saying “dude, nice ash.” Always flattering to have your ash complemented.

View jdh122's profile

jdh122

335 posts in 1413 days


#6 posted 222 days ago

I’ve used ash quite a lot too and like it. As Redoak49 says, it looks like it will disappear all over north America, which is very sad.
I have had pieces that were very hard to plane without tearout and I ended up having to use card and cabinet scrapers for hours on end, but it generally works OK. I have not had problems with blotchiness – I’ve always finished it with oil and wax.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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b2rtch

4286 posts in 1643 days


#7 posted 222 days ago

There is about no straight grain in the pieces I get, it is very pretty but surely it will be difficult to machine

-- Bert

View Paul's profile

Paul

649 posts in 2687 days


#8 posted 222 days ago

I’ve enjoyed working with Ash. Yes, more difficult to make pleasing grain pattern matches when gluing up wider boards. Yet, I don’t think you will find the machining and staining as difficult as you imagine. Of course my ash was from an old woodworker’s milled and air dried stash liquidated at an estate auction. I would guess that packing crate wood may not be fully dry.

-- Paul, Texas

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1155 posts in 892 days


#9 posted 222 days ago

Most of the ash trees in the woods behind my house are dead or down. Thank you emerald borer, another import from China. Burns well in the wood stove if you decide you can’t use it. I have turned some mallets from short lengths of it, about all I could think of doing with it.

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4286 posts in 1643 days


#10 posted 222 days ago

The wood is new, no nail and no screw.
It just seats on the top of the shipment to protect it and it is held in place with plastic banding.

-- Bert

View RogerInColorado's profile

RogerInColorado

286 posts in 549 days


#11 posted 221 days ago

I’m envious of your position. I think Ash is a beautiful wood. I read often about people making keepsake boxes from it. In addition to it’s other qualities, it is strong and useful for tool handles because it absorbs the shock of the tool striking a target (head of a hammer on a nail) instead of transmitting the shock onto your arm. It is also used for shovel handles because it is really strong and not expensive. You have a find, my friend. Make a bunch of toys and give them to a shelter.

View Grandpa's profile

Grandpa

3042 posts in 1270 days


#12 posted 221 days ago

Wood magazine referred to ash as the “other oak”. It finishes and machines much like oak as the others have said. No splotching. It makes many people sneeze like crazy so be prepared for that. It was used for cabinets in the late ‘60’s and in the ‘70’s in my part of the country. I think many trends begin on the coasts and work toward the center of the country so we might have been in the last part of the trend. I have make some projects from ash and found it to not bee too difficult to work with. Good luck and a great find.

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4286 posts in 1643 days


#13 posted 221 days ago

Yes, I have a find.
We receive these shipment twice a week (every shipment fills the back of my mini-van).
I want to keep all the wood but I already run out of place to stock it.

-- Bert

View quvia's profile

quvia

93 posts in 262 days


#14 posted 221 days ago

I love working with ash. (check my projects) Makes nice toys, Table legs, boxes etc. Finishes nice and sands smooth.

-- Ted ,Conesus,N.Y.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13196 posts in 933 days


#15 posted 221 days ago

I use a lot of ash. I really like it and have no complaints.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

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